Overwatch League News

The 2019 Los Angeles Gladiators: New Shield Who Dis?

Meet the Gladiators

  • Lane “Surefour” Roberts
    • Surefour returns for a second season with the Gladiators. He demonstrated his DPS prowess during All-Star week, winning the Widow 1v1 challenge. His deep hero pool and affinity for Zarya bodes well for a GOATS meta.
  • João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles
    • Whether he was wielding a dragon blade or Doomfist’s gauntlet, Hydration consistently racked up kills in season 1. More importantly, he is the first OWL player to release a holiday album.
  • Gui-un “Decay” Jang
    formerly Kongdoo Panthera

    • Decay and Kongdoo Panthera placed 2nd in the second season of Korean Contenders. His hero pool overlaps with Hydration and Surefour, with a notable exception: Tracer.

Aaron “Bischu” Kim / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

  • Aaron “Bischu” Kim, Off Tank
    • Besides off tank, Bischu wears many masks for the Gladiators. His energetic personality made him a perfect candidate for interviews on behalf of the team and league. More importantly he played the role of English/Korean interpreter during games. As the Gladiators add four new Korean players to the roster, this last skill is sure to get some use.
  • Jun-woo “Void” Kang, Off Tank
    • Void joined the Gladiators during stage 4 at the rumored request of Fissure. They had previously played together on Cloud9 Kongdoo. While the Gladiators ended stage 4 with a 9-1 record, Void spent most of the stage finding his footing with the team (57% map win ratio to Bischu’s 68%, in the same period of time). Of all the returning Gladiators, Void’s role in the upcoming season is the most up in the air.
  • Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye, Main Tank
    formerly Kongdoo Panthera

    • Whether he likes it or not, rOar (that’s an ‘o’ not a zero) has big handsome main tank shoes to fill. His aggressive tank play is not unlike Fissure’s, which worked well in the Gladiator’s first season. However, while Fissure was known for his Winston, rOar’s go-to is Reinhardt a better fit for GOATs.
  • Byung-ho “Panker” Lee, Main Tank
    two-way player with Gladiator’s Legion

    • A popular pick-up for the Gladiators, Panker is the only two-way player on this team. It’s too early to tell how he will affect the team. He’s notably absent from the Gladiators roster video. He may only appear should rOar be unable to play, or the team may bring him in intermittently to mix things up.

Benjamin Ville Aapeli “BigGoose” Isohanni / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

  • Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigG00se” Isohanni
    • It’s hard to talk about one Glads support without the other. The Finnish players make up what is considered one of the best support duos in the league. Through the Gladiators’ ups and downs, they held steady throughout season one. Shaz healed his team more than other Zenyatta in the league. Meanwhile, BigG00se spent most of the season on Mercy boosting, resurrecting, and dealing a surprising amount of damage.
  • Riku “Ripa” Toivanen
    formerly Team Gigantti

    • So what happens when we add a third Finnish support into the mix? We will have to wait and see. Ripa, who played for Team Gigantti after Shaz and G00se left, has been suspended for 5 games. If the GOATS meta persists through Stage 1, we may see him play alongside the Shaz and G00se. Or Gladiators coaching may have the trio swap around based on maps.


Kevin “Kez” Jeon, General Manager

David “dpei” Pei, Head Coach

Timothy “Tim” Albanese, Assistant Coach

Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing, Assistant Coach

Carl “PCC” Daubery, Performance Coach

Shang-yeon “Shibainu” Han, Korean Translator

Learn more about the new members of the LA Gladiators staff

OWL 2019

Many outlets place Gladiators within the top five OWL teams. However, with so many changes in the second season, it could be anyone’s game. As head coach dpei puts it on Twitter:

“While it’s great that people have us high in power rankings, I think everyone should level their expectations because I view us as a completely new team.”

However, if the Gladiators are to be successful, I believe it will be due to a few factors.

Pre-Built Roster

In season 1, the team included two sets of players from the same team (iRemiix and Bischu from Kungarna, Shaz and BigG00se from Gigantti) and later added a third (Fissure and Void from Cloud 9 Kongdoo). Season 2 brings three new Kongdoo Panthera alumni Decay, rOar, and Panker. Ripa also rounds out the Gigantti support trio. By relying on these pre-existing connections, hopefully less time will be spent building trust, which leaves room for them to focus on higher levels of play. Of course, they’ll still need to make connections outside their former squads.

Big Brain Bamboozles

I don’t expect plays as wild as the Great Bamboozle every week. However, since the first one worked so well I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t float something unique once a stage. With fewer games overall, there may be more room to practice unseen strategies. And with a hero pool as deep as the  Gladiators they have room improvise.

The Bischu Factor

As previously mentioned, Bischu is core to the Gladiators with his split role as tank and interpreter. When Fissure joined the Gladiators in stage 2, Bischu began his bilingual role. And while much of the focus was on the new tank Fissure, then-DPS Asher also found new footing in the team. Asher, who had previously seemed off on his hunt, was enabled to be a better team player. Bischu noted that interpreting and playing is challenging. But if its a skill he’s been sharpening, we may see the Gladiators with a new set of fangs with Decay and rOar.

Can the Gladiators in deliver in 2019? According to head coach dpei, “We have the potential to be first or last, but it’s completely up to us and the work we put it.”

We’ll get our first glimpse of that potential on February 14th. The LA Gladiators are up against the Seoul Dynasty (playing against former main tank Fissure) in an opening game you don’t want to miss.

Shields up, Gladiators!


8 Things To Watch For: OWL 2019’s Chinese Teams

Overwatch League has added three new Chinese teams during the expansion. Each has their own unique storyline going into this season. The Chinese region has an increased global attraction after the success of their 2018 World Cup team as well as the powerful rosters within their Contenders region. Here are two things each team should look for this upcoming season.

Read more …

Minority Report: When Worlds Collide

In this week’s Minority Report, the LA Valiant and the LA Kings hockey team collide in a crossover for the ages. 

In college, I used to watch a lot of old science fiction movies. The 1950’s were rife with them due to an otherworldly fascination with space travel and new technologies. One of my favorite ones was  “When Worlds Collide,” which depicts humanity’s reaction when we discover that a rogue star is on a collision course with Earth. While I watched the inevitable frenzy that would occur in an apocalyptic situation like that, something stood out to me: the fact that people weren’t even willing to accept the situation until it was too late. The five stages of grief shone in full, global display, as the world they knew was about to be literally annihilated.

Read more …

Shanghai Dragons Team Preview

In the weeks leading up to the start of Overwatch League’s second season, we’ll be introducing you to each team and updating you on their rosters, staff, and history. 

The Shanghai Dragons have had it rough. A grand total of zero wins to forty losses in the inaugural season of Overwatch League solidified them as the worst team in the league. The off season was marked by a major restructure of the team: new coaches, new management, almost an entirely new roster from some of Contenders’ finest. And with nothing to lose, the Dragons are ready to take their crown.

Read more …

Contenders: XL2 Makes Shocking Cuts After Exiting Playoffs

XL2 Academy, the Contenders team owned by the New York Excelsior, sent shockwaves through the Contenders scene on Saturday evening by parting ways with nearly half of their playoff roster.

Liam “Mangachu” Campbell, James “Cloneman16” D’Arcangelo, and Anthony “Goliath” Pietro all announced via Twitter that they were no longer part of XL2, and were looking for teams. Read more …

Contenders North America: Semifinal and Grand Final Predictions!

Yesterday, the top eight teams in North American Contenders went head-to-head in four matches to determine who continues on their playoff run. Current champions Fusion University almost fell to an astonishingly good Team Envy, but came out with a 3-2 score. Successful unsigned organization Second Wind beat First Generation with another 3-2. XL2 took down Uprising Academy with a 3-1, as did their future opponents ATL Academy, who defeated NRG Esports (3-1). Read on to see who we think will move on to the Grand Finals on Sunday, January 13.

Read more …

Contenders North America: Week 5 Recap

In the final week of regular season North American Contenders competition, we saw teams secure miracle playoff positions and keep their dreams alive. Group A was a predictable bunch, where top teams continued their dominance and renewed the hype for the postseason. Group B was an entire other animal; three teams’ playoff dreams came down to map count and last-minute spoiler plays to confirm seeding.

Stay tuned later in the day for the really good stuff: playoff predictions. 

Read more …

Contenders North America: Week 4 Recap

Four down, one to go. After a short break for the holidays, North American Contenders returns with the final week in the regular season. While Group A’s playoff group is pretty solidly decided, Group B is still a middle ground toss-up that will come down to map differential. Remember that, due to the holiday, Week 5’s matches are on Wednesday and Thursday instead of Tuesday and Wednesday. (I can only assume this switch is because nobody wants to be playing competitive Overwatch hungover.)

Read more …

Minority Report: A Year I needed

It’s December 31st, the year is over, and I’m sitting here at the computer, slightly hungover, tore up from the floor up, trying to process it all. My latest self-assignment for Minority Report was a year-end article that summed up the year on a positive note, as someone pointed out to me that my last few pieces have been pretty tonally negative.

I mean, I suppose there is a point there. The initial idea behind Minority Report was to create a way for me to connect with fans, players, and industry folks who were people of color – people who are often overlooked, or harassed just for doing what they love. It ended up, though, becoming so much more than that. It was a space that allowed me to tell my journey through Overwatch League while exposing the flaws and mistakes it made during in its inaugural season and discussing what it could do to be better. I didn’t find much joy in doing the latter, but it was necessary, with Blizzard’s varying levels of missteps.

However, Overwatch League ultimately made 2018 a transformative year for me. A year I truly needed to happen just the way it did. So after a year of those callouts, of focusing on the bad to help it become good, I’d like to take a moment to do something different. I’d like to, with real sincerity, say “thank you.” And I’m not going to make this fancy, or show off my extensive vocabulary, or try to be acerbic. I’m just going to speak from the heart.

The OWL Grand Finals crowd / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Thank you, to the Overwatch League. For as long as I live, I will never forget how incredible, exciting, and inclusive this inaugural season has been. These were some of the best times of my life, and as old and grumpy as I am, the fact that you were able to embrace my natural passion for the game means more than you could ever understand. From the very first game; to the Grand Finals, to the All-Star Games, I have never felt such joy. I know that the second season will have its ups and downs as well, but I’ll be there screaming my head off each and every time.



Thank you, to the Los Angeles Valiant. They were a team that I picked entirely by accident, but they accepted me as their official hypewoman and gave me opportunities that I never thought were possible. They showed they truly cared about their fans and their community with their Be Valiant program and special events throughout the year; and by doing so, they inspired other teams to do the same. They genuinely are ground-breakers in the esports scene. I’m proud to back a team full of passionate players who give it their all every time, and I’m especially proud of all the managers and coordinators who welcomed me with open arms. I know I’m just a fan, and cannot fully comprehend all of the hard work that you all put into making this team so successful. But I can appreciate it, and I can show you that when the chips are down, I will be there to cheer you on no matter what.

Thank you to Overwatchscore.com and especially to my mentor Brandon Padilla, who believed in me and in what I wanted to say. He took a huge chance, and it turned out to be more successful than either of us could have imagined. I wasn’t sure that pointing out racial inequality in esports would be acceptable, but he encouraged me to keep writing anyway. And now, I have people from all over telling me about how my writing helped them and changed them, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. I was able to start real conversations and help shift the discussion concerning esports. Additionally, with the support of the current writing and editing staff, I hope to improve my style and broaden my scope, to continue telling exciting and thought-provoking stories.

Thank you for my fellow super fans. When I first moved here, it was hard for me to make friends because I was always on the grind. And truthfully, it isn’t easy for me to trust people, especially in a city that is known for its duplicitous nature. But even as a seasoned writer, it is tough for me to put into words how humbled and grateful I am to have such genuine, loving people in my life, who genuinely care about me and my well-being. We are the ones who help give Overwatch League a heart, and we will never back down. You guys are the best friends a woman could ask for, and I love you guys to death.

Thank you to my best friends for life, Elton “Altecha” Kwok and Chris “Widget” DiMauro, for being the architects of probably the best cosplay I’ve ever seen: the Brigitte cosplay they created in secret as my birthday present for Blizzcon. I was not only impressed with how they kept me in the dark for so long but how they were able to take a passing comment I made back in July during New York Excelsior’s Homecoming and make the most incredible armor I’ve ever had the privilege of wearing. It made that weekend so memorable and embodying a character whose personality matches my own filled my heart with more joy than I could ever fathom. And the response? I still get likes and retweets for it, and it happened almost two months ago. I cannot wait to see what you have planned for next year.

Thank you to my family, for being 100% supportive of my journey in esports, and for asking me when I would be on TV so they could see me and cheer me on. Thanks to my mother, for listening to me and reassuring me of my strength when I felt weak. My sister, for reminding me that life is just ridiculous sometimes and that I should roll with it. My brother, for constantly reviving my passion for video games by sharing his with me. Last, to my father, for keeping me on my feet when I felt like I couldn’t move anymore. Even after my grandmother’s death, our family’s resilience shows, and we are now closer than we have ever been.

Finally, I wanted to thank you. Yes, you, the person who is reading this right now. I know I can be very blunt when I speak my mind, but you stuck by me. You retweeted and up-voted my articles. You are those who sparked real discussions (good and bad) about the content – discussions that helped change the way that people think. I cannot begin to express how much it means to me that you are willing to listen to what I had to say. Understand that you are more powerful than you could ever know. We can make esports an inclusive, exciting space for everyone, and to allow me to help you make that happen with my work is a dream come true. I hope I can continue to make you think, to make you feel, and to remind you that it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes, as that generates real and lasting change.

I will admit, it was challenging for me to write this article since I am unsure of what 2019 will bring. I want to have this year end on a positive note, yet with all of the good that happened, I can’t deny that a lot of bad came with it. A lot of things that I believed would carry over into 2019 simply were not meant to do so. I saw a lot of friendships end, a lot of trusts broken, and a healthy reminder that I need to be more careful about who I allow around me. Conversely, I’ve received a lot of incredible opportunities, including chances to learn from the hardships this year threw my way.

Most importantly, I learned that sometimes things don’t go your way – and it’s not within your control, nor is it your fault. But what you can control is how you react to adversity, no matter how big or small. My promise is that I choose to respond proactively and positively, even when it feels like the end.

For as the artist Childish Gambino said earlier this year: “I think endings are good because they force things to get better.”

So here’s to a better 2019.

Keep fighting and keep smiling,